What Does The Acronym Cats Stand For In The Military?

CATS is an acronym used in the military that stands for Casualty, Assistance, Threat and Status. In this article, we’ll explore the history behind the CATS acronym and what each of the letters means in further detail.


The acronym CATS first arose in the context of the U.S. Army in the 1970s. It stands for “Casualty, Assistance, Threat, and Status.” According to the DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, CATS was first used as a radio report that enabled vital battlefield information to be quickly communicated. During combat operations, unit leaders would radio in a CATS report to provide a concise update on the situation. Each letter in CATS conveyed essential details:

C – Number of casualties and degree of injuries

A – Whether assistance/reinforcements were needed

T – Enemy threat details

S – Overall status and morale

This standardized shorthand enabled commanders to promptly assess scenarios and coordinate appropriate responses across units. CATS reports continue to play an important role in military communications today.

C – Casualty

In the military context, a casualty refers to any member of the armed forces who becomes unable to perform their duties due to injury, illness, capture, or death. Casualty counts are used to assess the impact and severity of military engagements. According to this Reddit thread, different types of casualties counted in World War II included killed, wounded, missing in action, and captured service members. The total casualty count encompasses both battle casualties directly resulting from combat, as well as non-battle casualties from accidents, disease, or other causes. Tracking casualty numbers provides insight into the human cost of military operations.

A – Assistance

Assistance refers to any type of help or aid provided during training events in the CATS program. Some examples of assistance counted include:

  • Providing coaching, tips, or advice to improve performance
  • Demonstrating how to properly execute a task or drill
  • Answering questions and providing clarity on training objectives
  • Correcting mistakes and identifying areas for improvement
  • Offering suggestions, feedback, and recommendations

As explained on the Collective Training Sustainment Resources page, the CATS program aims to focus unit training and identify opportunities to better prepare for future objectives. Counting assistance helps quantify the amount of support and direction units receive during training events.

T – Threat

Threat in the CATS acronym stands for “threats counted”. This refers to the threats in the area that military personnel are tracking and monitoring.

The threats counted in CATS can include:

  • Enemy combatants
  • Armed civilians
  • IEDs (improvised explosive devices)
  • Snipers
  • Artillery fire
  • Incoming aircraft

By tracking threats, personnel can maintain situational awareness and make informed decisions to protect themselves and accomplish their missions. The number and types of threats are key details to communicate in CATS reports.

S – Status

The “S” in CATS stands for “Status.” This refers to reporting on the readiness status and training progress of a military unit. According to the DoD Dictionary of Military Terms, status includes things like “The level of readiness, parchment, operational status, and training of a military unit” (1).

Some examples of status in the CATS context would be a unit reporting their personnel strength, equipment serviceability, training exercise results, or deployment readiness level. The status helps inform leadership on the overall preparedness and capabilities of the unit (2). Having clear status reports allows issues to be identified and addressed so that units can maintain the required levels of readiness. Regular status updates are a key component of military management and oversight.

Overall, the status component of CATS provides essential information on the current condition and preparedness of military units to carry out their designated missions. Clear, accurate status reporting is crucial for identifying needs, assessing capabilities, and ensuring operational readiness across the armed forces.

1. https://dacipad.whs.mil/images/Public/10-Reading_Room/03_Acronyms_Terms/DoD_Acronyms_Dictionary.pdf
2. https://cascom.army.mil/asrp/collective.html


CATS, or Casualty Assistance, Threat, and Status, is often used by military leaders and personnel to report critical information about units and operations. According to the Army Unit Status Reporting and Force Registration publication from the Army Publishing Directorate, CATS is used to provide timely and accurate data on a unit’s personnel and equipment readiness [1].

CATS reports are submitted on a regular basis, often daily or multiple times per day depending on the operation. Unit commanders and operations personnel are responsible for filling out and submitting CATS reports. The information is then tracked and monitored at various levels of command to maintain situational awareness. CATS provides vital data on things like equipment serviceability, ammunition stocks, fuel supplies, and personnel readiness. This allows leadership to identify shortfalls and issues that need to be addressed.

During field exercises and deployments, CATS is an essential tool for tracking the status of units in near real-time. It facilitates information flow between frontline units and rear headquarters. By closely monitoring CATS reports, commanders can make timely and informed decisions about logistics, personnel, movements, and other critical factors that impact unit readiness and the mission.


Cats were important for the military for several reasons. First, they helped control rodents and pests on ships and in barracks, protecting food supplies and preventing the spread of disease (2). Their instincts as hunters made them very effective at catching rats, mice, and other vermin. According to the National WWII Museum, cats helped protect precious food rations from being eaten by rodents (1).

Second, cats provided companionship and comfort to soldiers and sailors dealing with the stresses of military life and war. Petting and caring for an animal has been shown to reduce anxiety and boost morale. During World War II, many cats travelled on ships and submarines, providing emotional support for the crew (1).

Finally, some cats took on more active roles assisting military operations. On ships they could serve as an early warning system, alerting crews to changes in air pressure that might indicate an impending submarine attack. Cats could also help detect noxious gases. There are stories of cats protecting camps by chasing away or attacking venomous snakes. Their keen senses augmented military capabilities (2).

In summary, cats contributed to military functioning by controlling pests, uplifting morale, and lending their sensory abilities to operations. Tracking CATS status gave personnel insight into these useful animals and their benefits.


CATS has some limitations that should be noted. According to the Army Training Support System manual, CATS focuses on developing strategies for units to reach and sustain training proficiency, but does not provide guidance on assessing individual proficiency (Army Training Support System, 2022). Additionally, while CATS provides training strategies, it does not include details on specific tactics, techniques and procedures. The strategies outline training objectives, but leave the specifics of how to accomplish training up to unit commanders and trainers.

In terms of key data excluded, CATS does not incorporate quantitative data analysis to forecast readiness levels. The strategies are based on doctrinal principles and qualitative assessment of training needs. However, data such as weapons qualifications rates, individual task testing results, and collective task assessment are not directly incorporated into CATS. So while CATS provides overarching strategies, it lacks integration of granular performance data that could provide additional insights on training gaps.


To summarize, CATS is an important acronym used by the military that stands for Casualty, Assistance, Threat, and Status. It provides a simplified way for military personnel to quickly communicate key information during operations or emergencies.

The C in CATS refers to Casualty and indicates any injuries, deaths, or damage resulting from a military operation or incident. The A stands for Assistance and indicates any requests or needs for medical aid, equipment, reinforcements, etc. T is for Threat and is used to concisely describe any potential or confirmed threats in the area. Finally, S stands for Status and indicates the current situation or conditions on the ground.

By using the CATS acronym, the military is able to efficiently relay critical details through the chain of command. It enables personnel to provide quick, structured reports up the ranks to inform leadership and decision-making. Though limited in details, the consistent formatting helps ensure vital information is communicated rapidly during time-sensitive operations. Overall, CATS plays an important role in military communications and mission effectiveness.

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